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Hilchos Tefillin 36 (page 123)
מ-אות ה עד אות ט

The Position of the Left Leg of the Heh
The Vav of Brisi Shalom
The Components of the Ches

The position of the left leg of the heh
The left leg of the heh should be aligned with the left tip of its roof. If the leg is in the wrong place, the letter is pasul. One solution is to erase the part of roof that extends beyond the leg, or, for a sefer Torah (which does not require k'sidron), to erase and rewrite the leg. When it is not possible to fix the problem, the letter is kosher bedieved as long as the leg is below the left half of the roof. The space between the left leg and the roof should not be greater than the thickness of the roof. The leg should not be too close to the roof, either; at the very least, there should be a distance between them that is visible from close up. The lower part of the leg should align with the bottom of the right leg.
( אות ה; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 4 ו־8)
The vav of brisi shalom
Chazal note that the vav in brisi shalom (in Parahas Pinchas) is 'cut off.' According to some Rishonim, this means that there is a crack in the leg. Others interpret it to mean that the vav is written shorter than usual. Rebbi Akiva Eiger instructed the one writing his personal sefer Torah to fulfill both opinions by writing a properly formed short vav and adding an unconnected little piece below. A similar opinion is cited by earlier poskim as well. Another opinion holds that the bottom of the vav should be cut off diagonally. There is an opinion (not reflected in the Halacha) that the cut should be near the top so that the top section of the letter looks like a yud.
( אות ו, ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 7)

The components of the ches
According to most Rishonim, the ches is formed from two zayins connected with an arrowlike top called a chatoteres. The upper right corner of the zayin on the right should be rounded. According to some opinions, the Kabbalah holds that when one writes a ches for tefillin, the right side of the ches should be shaped like a vav. If the ches was formed from two vavs, or a dales-vav or dales-zayin, it is kosher bedieved but must be corrected. According to Rashi, the ches should look like the familiar ches of the siddur - a flat roof with two straight legs and a tag on the left side of the roof.
( אות ח; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 1)


  • If both yuds of the aleph connect at the same point so that the letter looks like an X, some poskim consider it invalid while others permit it. Even according to those who permit this shape, it is not the correct way to form the letter and is unfitting for kisvei kodesh.
  • Two tips protrude from each end of the roof of the beis. Chazal note that the beis alludes to the creation of the world and these tips point to the Creator; the left tip points heavenward to the Creator on high, while the right tip points back towards its predecessor the aleph, alluding to Hashemechad.
  • The roof of the gimel is like a zayin --  squared, with three tagim on top and a thin leg [according to contemporary custom] extending downwards and slightly towards the right. 

  • The components of the tes

  • The shape of the yud

  • The kutzo shel yud